Q. Were you anywhere near Gaza?
A. No. Well, what's "near" to us? The closest we ever were to Gaza was about 80 miles. (Israel) is kind of small.
Q. What was the mood there among the Israelis?
A. They were concerned for their troops, and also concerned about how the world views what they were doing. â?¦ They knew condemnation would come.
Q. What's your view of what Israel was doing?
A. It was absolutely defensive. â?¦ We just can't grasp the kind of world they live in. â?¦
We saw many pictures of Hamas rockets hitting school buildings and apartments. Others were of a 3-month old child who was killed.
Our driver, Joseph, made it real for us because his family was staying in a bomb shelter in southern Israel. â?¦ Hamas was firing nearly 80 rockets a day into southern Israel.
Q. And they had been doing that for months?
See Q&A, A7
A. For years, actually, but since the cease fire agreement ended in mid-December, Hamas had immediately upped its launches. â?¦
They're not trying to aim for anything. They're just pointing them toward Israel and letting them go â?¦. And not only are they not shooting at the military, but when (the Israeli troops go into Gaza), there's no military target to encounter. (The Palestinians are) shooting rockets from school buildings, from hospitals, from mosques. â?¦
So the places you have to go to stop this show to the world that you're attacking civilian targets. The world says, "Why is Israel attacking civilian targets?" instead of "Why is Hamas hiding behind civilian targets?"
Q. What are your feelings toward the Palestinian civilians who are victims of the attacks?
A. I was looking on The Jerusalem Post yesterday, and it said the people of Gaza are angry at Israel, but they're also angry at Hamas. â?¦ They're really caught in between. It's a tragedy when civilians, innocent people, are overrun by a terrorist organization. Of course, the people of Gaza supposedly elected Hamas to power. Whether Hamas stole that election or not, I don't know. But they're having to live with the consequences.
Israel is grieving the fact that residential areas were hit. They were trying to be as surgical as they could â?¦
From the polls I've seen online, Americans are getting that. â?¦ But what I see out of Europe is a lot of condemnation.
Q. Why is there so much condemnation of Israel and not as much of the Palestinians in Gaza?
A. The Devil hates Israel. I don't know if you can put that in the paper or not. â?¦ Israel says that the Palestinians have better P.R. â?¦
They're like a younger sibling that pushes you and pushes you until you strike back, and then cries for Mommy. They antagonize Israel until Israel does something, and then they put the pictures on the screen â?¦.
I don't understand why anyone would condemn what Israel was doing compared to what was being done to them.
While only a few Jews were killed, compared to hundreds of Palestinians â?¦ whose family are you going to line up to get in front of a rocket? How many people have to die before (Israel can retaliate)?
In mid-December, Israel warned them: "We're much stronger than you are. Stop this, or we're coming."
Q. Do you think Hamas wants a wider war?
A. Like Iran, Hamas' stated goal is to end the existence of Israel. â?¦. That's what the Jewish people were saying: "They don't want us to just leave them alone. They want us to cease to exist. They want the land without us."
Q. I was reading a Q & A with Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, in Newsweek last night, and he was saying that ultimately the solution is to unite Gaza with the Palestinians on the West Bank as one country. â?¦ Do you see that ever happening?
A. I think a two-state solution is wrong. The state of Israel was given the land in 1948 by the U.N. Since then they've been targeted from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Israel has a right to be a sovereign state. The Palestinians are Arabs. There are 21 Arab nations, and they can live in any of those nations. They can live in Israel as long as they choose to live in peace. â?¦